Pesto crusted chicken served with pasta and mushroom balsamic marinara sauce


I am totally obsessed with Pesto Princess pesto lately, which has inspired me to not only cook with it all the time but also grow basil in my garden so that I can make my own pesto. Spring is here and I am ready for some, what I like to call, intentional gardening. Our little apartment is overflowing with vivacious indoor plants, but for some reason, I cannot get any veggies or herbs to survive longer than a few weeks in my garden. But this year is different! I am doing my research, laying down the heaps of compost that accumulated all winter, and am planting plants that are suitable for the conditions in my garden – all in determination to yield a small harvest, because it just tastes so much better if you’ve grown it with your own two hands.

To begin with, I sewed some rainbow swiss chard, marrow, and rocket seeds. I have been unable to locate basil seeds yet; however, I learned through the wonders of the internet that you can take a basil clipping, place it in water, and it will sprout roots. So, I will be sure to do this next time I buy fresh basil.

My seedlingsMy seedlingsAlso, youtube taught me that you can take the base of a spring onion (you know, the bottom of the stalk that you always throw away), plant it directly in soil, and new spring onions will sprout almost immediately. Thanks youtube!

Spring onionsI woo my little baby plants to grow – I love them, stare at them all day long, talk to them, water them, move them into the sun, take them inside on those really brisk nights so they don’t freeze… and I think it is working. Nothing brings me greater joy than spotting the first sign of life inching out of the soil and watching as it grows into something substantial to be planted in the ground.

This recipe is an original Kim creation, which I conjured up last weekend, and it was truly delicious – the flavors were so dynamic and complimentary. Hopefully in the next few months, I will be able to reproduce this meal using home grown ingredients!

Pesto crusted chicken with pasta and mushroom balsamic marinara sauce  (serves 2)

pesto crusted chickeningredients

for the chicken:

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 scrambled egg
  • a handful of flour
  • about 1 cup of bread crumbs
  • about 4 heaped tsp pesto
  • salt & pepper to taste

for the pasta:

  • about 200g pasta
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 heaped tsp garlic
  • 250g chopped brown onions
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 large handful halved cherry tomatoes
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tbl balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp ground basil

Directions

  1. preheat the oven to 200C
  2. coat the chicken breasts in flour and then dip them into the scrambled egg mixture
  3. smear a tsp of pesto on the chicken breast and press the pesto side into bread crumbs
  4. turn the breast over and repeat on the other side
  5. place the chicken in a pan, sprinkle some salt & pepper, and bake for about 30-35 minutes
  6. while your chicken is baking, prepare the pasta and sauce
  7. In a pan, saute the onions and garlic until browned
  8. add the mushrooms, and when about half cooked, add the remaining ingredients
  9. bring the sauce to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes
  10. at this point, cook your pasta
  11. serve the chicken over the bed of pasta heaped with sauce
  12. enjoy!
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Mediterranean Night


Jacquie, Darren, Ty and I alternate hosting weekly(ish) dinners at each other’s houses.  99% of the time, Jacquie and I pick out an exciting new recipe and cook for the boys, while the 1% accounts for anything that needs to be cooked on the braai, because that is a man’s job and I’m not so sure I would be able to start a fire if my life depended on it.

Jacqs and I are a great cooking team; we of course love to please our boys but it is more so about sharing the love of cooking with each other, taking on the challenge, and reaping the rewards of our yummy, successful, never-made-before, homemade meals.  We live vicariously through our taste buds, who have traveled from South Africa to Italy, India, North America, Mexico, and now to the Mediterranean.

For Mediterranean night, we made chicken and beef shwarmas bursting with fillings and dripping with sauces.  The inspiration for my homemade hummus and tzatziki came from Drizzle and Dip and Souvlaki For the Soul.

Hummus (makes 1 bowl-full)

Ingredients

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 tbl whole white sesame seeds or tahini paste
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika (I am obsessed with paprika and put too much on everything, which is why my hummus is so orange and I therefore suggested using less in this recipe)
  • dash of chili powder
  • the juice from half a lemon
  • a few dashes of salt and pepper
  • a glug of olive oil

Directions: pour everything into a food processor and blend until thick and creamy

Tzatziki (makes 1 bowl-full)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of plain yoghurt
  • 1 cup of shredded cucumber
  • 1 tsp fresh diced garlic
  • a handful of chopped dill
  • half a diced onion
  • the juice from half a lemon
  • a dash of salt

Directions: mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and chill in the fridge until ready to eat

Shwarmas (serves 4 + leftovers)

Ingredients

  • 6-8 pita pockets
  • a few cups of finely sliced cabbage
  • hummus
  • tzatziki
  • 200-300g shredded chicken
  • 200-300g sauteed beef strips
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • lots of chopped fresh coriander

Building your shwarmas:

  1. microwave your pitas for approximately 30 seconds until hot
  2. carefully cut the pitas open to create a pocket
  3. spread generous amounts of hummus and tzatziki all over the pitas
  4. add the cabbage, chicken and/or beef
  5. sprinkle with some salt & pepper
  6. garnish with lots of coriander
  7. hold the pita with two hands and dig-in
  8. don’t be afraid to get food all over your face, hands, and pants
  9. go back for seconds and thirds even!